CenterPoint Energy, Inc.'s (NYSE: CNP) electric utility to file an application for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to construct a portion of the Houston Import Project, a 130-mile, 345-kV transmission line that will run from Harris County to Limestone County. CenterPoint Energy is responsible for constructing and maintaining the southern portion of the line, known as the Brazos Valley Connection, which will run from Harris to Grimes County. The northern portion of the transmission line will be constructed by Cross Texas Transmission, and will run from Grimes to Limestone County.
"Of the nation's twenty largest metro areas, Houston ranked third in the number of jobs created in 2014; reliable electricity is critical to maintaining that success," said Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of CenterPoint Energy's Electric Operations. "The southeast Texas region that will be served by the Houston Import Project is a hub that will drive economic growth not only in Texas, but also across the country."
"Access to reliable, affordable energy is critical to the Texas Gulf Coast's economy and its reputation as a good place to do business," said Tony Bennett, President of the Texas Association of Manufacturers. "We're starting to see electricity congestion in the Texas Gulf Coast region that can erode the confidence of those eager to invest here. If a region becomes notorious for electricity reliability or congestion issues, it's very difficult to regain trust and confidence among employers and investors."
In 2014, ERCOT identified the Houston Import Project as critical to provide additional transmission capacity to import power supply into the Houston area by summer 2018. Since that time, CenterPoint Energy has worked with a routing consultant to perform an environmental assessment and routing analysis for the proposed line. Additionally, public input was gathered at open houses and through the Community Engagement section of the Brazos Valley Connection Web site.
The length of the Brazos Valley Connection will be between 60 miles and 78 miles depending upon the route approved by the PUC. CenterPoint Energy estimates the total project capital cost of the Brazos Valley Connection will be between $276 million and $383 depending upon the route approved by the PUC. At the conclusion of the project, the estimated impact to a residential customer within CenterPoint Energy's service territory using 1,000 kWh per month would be approximately $0.25 per month.
Because the project has been designated critical by ERCOT, the PUC has 180 days to make a decision on the project after the CCN application is filed.
After the PUC reviews CenterPoint Energy's application, the PUC will issue a final order addressing all issues relating to the electric transmission line, including whether the application is approved and if so, which route should be constructed. Upon final approval, CenterPoint Energy will begin construction and anticipates that the project will be completed by mid-2018.
The application will be filed under PUC Docket No. 44547. The PUC Certification Process for transmission lines can be reviewed here.